Hewlett-Packard has announced that, as part of plans to accelerate the global expansion of webOS -- the mobile platform it purchased from Palm and is banking on big time -- it's repositioning two key executives.
Jon Rubinstein, a former Apple staffer, CEO of Palm and man behind webOS, will "assume a product innovation role within the Personal Systems Group (PSG) at HP," the company said in a July 11 statement. Stephen DeWitt, who has been leading HP's PSG Americas group, will lead the webOS group from a business perspective.
Translation: Rubinstein, a tech guy, will get to focus more on tech and less on marketing, which should be good for webOS, good for HP and good for developers.
"It's about putting people in jobs where they can make the best contribution," Roger Kay, principal analyst with EndPoint Technologies, told MDP in an interview. "Rubinstein will be more available to developers in his new role, and that's a good thing."
Kay explained that Rubinstein's broader role — he'll help to "propel innovation across product lines," per HP — will allow him to address what's going to happen with HP's personal computers, which by 2012 will be shipping with support for both Windows and webOS.
"Another person to keep an eye on is Richard Kerris," said Kay, HP's vice president of worldwide developer relations for webOS . Kerris was also at Apple, and after it George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic.
"Kerris saw the team, saw the product, and said that's a winning combination and I'm willing to bet my career on it. .... He joined HP in the spring, and he's going to be a big developer resource under Rubinstein, and that's a good combo, the old Apple team," said Kay.
"The only issue is whether HP can offer them enough seats to make it worth their while," Kay added, saying that the expansion of webOS to HP's consumer PCs may do the trick.
Despite the Android platform's phenomenal growth spike, Kay expects adoption rates to slow, especially with Microsoft beginning to go after Android handset profits (MDP: Microsoft Goes After Samsung For a Piece of Each Android Smartphone Sold) and Google, with its shallow patent portfolio, not being very proactive about defending its partners.
All of this, said Kay, may make it a "very fine time for HP to dip its oar and pull harder."